Less than two weeks ago as hundreds of Kenyans trooped to the village to celebrate the festive season with their loved ones, David Ogolla also drove his family to his rural home in Siaya.
They celebrated the day roasting meat over fire, and washed it down with drinks and some hearty conservations then soon dusk crept in.
The father of three then bundled his wife and children into the family car and headed to Siaya Town, some 50 kilometres away from home, in search for accommodation.
Ogolla, a marketing executive in Nairobi, says he doesn’t see the point of sinking bank notes for a home in the village which he only visits once in a lifetime. He instead opted to construct a shelter in Nairobi where he lives and works, the move he says saves him monthly rent payment.
“My parents also live in Nairobi therefore I don’t travel to the village quite often," pointed Ogolla who has put up a three-bedroom house in Njiru, Nairobi.
The issue of whether to put up a shelter back in the village has attracted divergent opinions across the country’s social media sphere after Dr Bitange Ndemo opined that building in the village, which you rarely visit, is a misplaced investment and therefore ‘dead capital’.
While a clique of Kenyans have lived in cities for decades without even a mud-walled hut in the village, others borrow huge loans to put up ‘palaces’ that remain idle.
“I regret why I put up a house in my rural home while I suffered in the city. The house was dead capital. I could not rent it to anyone yet I had to pay somebody to take care of it. In fifteen years I have used it twice,” wrote Dr Ndemo
Dr Ndemo went on to allude that such homes are burial homes, saying those in the city build in the village to avoid embarrassing the clan when they die.
On one hand, Dr Ndemo’s observations hold some truth because whenever a prominent figure in the country passes and happens not to have built a reasonable house back in the village, social media users would never let their soul rest in peace without giving them a jibe here and a lecture there.
The late Prof Okoth Okombo, veteran journalist Ogao Patrobas were rumoured to have passed on without building a shelter in their respective ancestral villages and netizens quickly dragged them to the court of ‘public justice’ for failing to honour a ‘societal norm’.
The late Ogao’s employer had to build two permanent houses for the former journalist’s rural home in Nyabondo before he could be buried.